Minnesota Wild vs Phoenix Coyotes recap: shooting optional

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild defeat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-1 on Saturday night.

24:28.

Nearly half a game.

That is how long the Phoenix Coyotes went between shots with a lead in a crucial game against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.

24:28.

In that span of shot-less ineptitude, Phoenix saw their 1-0 lead tied, vanquished and put out of reach.

Minnesota scored three goals in the third period, two by Zach Parise, en route to a 3-1 victory, taking away a golden opportunity for the Coyotes to move up in the standings and solidify a playoff position.

"We can't let them come out in the third and let them score two and an empty net goal," Mikkel Boedker said. "That's not how we do it around here and obviously this was a good opportunity for us to jump up to seventh but that's the way it goes."

Despite their previous woes holding a 2-0 lead, a second goal would have done the Coyotes a lot of good.

"Obviously it's disappointing having a one-goal lead coming into the last 10 or 12 minutes, and we've got to find ways to extend that and we didn't," captain Shane Doan said.

Thomas Greiss was solid once again in place of the injured Mike Smith, stopping 27-of-29 shots, but his teammates let him down on the scoreboard.

"We didn't find enough offense," Doan said. "Our forwards need to be better."

While it did not result in a win on Saturday, Greiss' play has allowed the Coyotes to stay solidly in a playoff chase that looked bleak while Smith was writhing in pain inside his crease at Madison Square Garden earlier this week.

The Coyotes continued their trend of scoring first on Saturday for the 12th time in their last 15 games. A power play opportunity that featured solid puck movement and two crucial keep-ins at the blueline by Keith Yandle led to Boedker's 19th goal of the season. The Dane deflected Doan's pass off his leg and into the net, beating the infamous former Coyote Ilya Bryzgalov.

The Desert Dogs survived the dreaded second period with their one-goal lead intact, but would not survive the third.

Minnesota controlled the puck and opened the third period scoring right off a faceoff on Parise's 26th goal of the season. Mikko Koivu cleanly won the faceoff back to Parise who one-timed the puck past Greiss.

"We didn't sustain any pressure as a team," Doan said. "We're a way better team when we are playing in the offensive zone and pushing the puck rather than sitting back. We got sitting back and letting them come at us and when you let that happen, eventually bad things are going to happen."

Bad things did indeed happen.

The Wild took the lead on a point shot by Jared Spurgeon that fluttered by Greiss.

"Even though it was a knuckler that went in, it [started as] a puck battle in the offensive zone that doesn't get stopped there and allows it to come back into our end," coach Dave Tippett said.

"You hate to see a lead slip away like that."

Parise sealed the game's fate with an empty net goal as the Wild picked up two crucial points on the road with a come-from-behind victory.

It was a tough defeat for a team with higher aspirations than clinging to eighth place.

For the longest time, the Coyotes chased either the Vancouver Canucks or Dallas Stars for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Phoenix's strong play before Saturday (9-3-1 in last 13 games) allowed them to focus on not just making the playoffs, but moving up in the standings.

Minnesota came into Glendale nursing a one point lead over a Coyotes team poised to make that lead disappear. But, Minnesota held its ground and extended its lead over the Coyotes to three points. Dallas also won on Saturday, cutting their deficit to one point behind Phoenix with a game in hand.

While the loss is disappointing, the Coyotes are still in a playoff position.

"It is going to be like that. It is why you can't get too high right now and you can't get too low. It is about every game you just have to keep finding ways to win and we talked about it last week. It's like a playoff series, you got to forget the one you just played and move on whether you won or lost," Tippett said.

Paw Prints

  • Minnesota's perspective: Hockey Wilderness
  • Advanced game stats
  • Doan did not agree with the amount of time between recorded shots. "The guy running that score clock, I mean, come on. He's got to be a little better than that. I understand we didn't have a lot of shots, but we really don't take too much consideration into what he does, because sometimes it's pretty questionable. It wasn't that long between shots. The guy just doesn't keep track very well."
  • Glendale native and Paralympic sled hockey gold medalist Josh Sweeney participated in the ceremonial puck drop to start the game.
  • Mike Ribeiro returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch the previous two games. He made a few poor turnovers and Tippett described his line as just alright.
  • The Coyotes now have 11 power play goals in their last 13 games.
  • Phoenix is now 29-12-5 this season and 143-25-24 under Tippett when scoring first.
  • Doan and Yandle each got 10-minutes misconducts with 45 seconds left in the game.
  • Attendance: 16,691

Our Three Stars of the Game

1. Zach Parise - A pair of goals and blocks for the USA Olympian.

2. Ilya Bryzgalov - The former Yote stopped 23-of-24 shots en route to his eight victory of the season.

3. Thomas Greiss - Solid even in defeat with a .931 save percentage.

Looking Ahead

The Coyotes are off until Tuesday night when they faceoff against the team the used to be, the Winnipeg Jets. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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